Earlier this year the Echo Park neighborhood council spent more than $1,00o for 10 bike racks to be installed in front of shops and restaurants. But those “W”-shaped racks – which can accommodate five bikes each – remain wrapped up and stored in the neighborhood council office. Why? The council purchased the racks without first finding appropriate locations, and now council officials have learned that it might cost up to $1,800 in city fees to install each of the $110 bike racks. That leaves the neighborhood council to not only find locations that meet city regulations but business owners willing to pay those city fees. That is going to be a tough sell. “Nobody would pay $1,800 for a permit,” said Francisco Torrero, chairman of the neighborhood council’s Public Works, Parks and Land Use Committee.
But many shop owners never pay a dime to get a bike rack placed outside their businesses through a city program that installs them for free. “I wish the Neighborhood Council had contacted us first as we could have provided our racks in the area at no cost,” said city Senior Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery.
The bike issue came up during this week’s meeting of the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council”s planning committee, the unwrapped bike racks sitting a few feet away in a storage room. “You are now having to deal with something you didn’t think about before,” resident Ida Talallah told the committee members.
A planning committee member said the racks were purchased before the neighborhood council would have been forced to return unused funds back to the city. Council President Jose Sigala later discovered that the cost of city permits to install such bike racks – which can accommodate up to five bikes – can total up to $1,800 per rack.
That nearly $1,800 in fees (see breakdown below) is what the city charges businesses and organizations that seek to install racks on their own. But the city also installs racks at locations that meet certain criteria through its Sidewalk Parking Program. The city’s U-shaped racks are smaller than what the Echo Park neighborhood council purchased and their supply is limited. But the racks are free.
Mowery offered up a potential, money-saving solution for the Echo Park council bike rack problem. “It sounds like their racks will be too big to install in the public right of way. They could use our program and donate those racks to areas that would better accommodate a larger rack on private property like schools or churches or supermarkets with setbacks.”
|How can it cost up to $1,800 in city fees to install a bike rack on a sidewalk? Here is the break down of permit fees facing businesses and organizations that seek to install racks on their own: